Dame Vivienne Westwood FKC

Fashion pioneer, human rights activist and fourth most influential British artist in 2022.

Dame Vivienne Westwood, one of the most powerful, influential game-changers, who put a stamp on defining the punk movement within the fashion and arts industry, has sadly passed away.

Known for her brightly coloured hair and unique fashion designs, Dame Vivienne Westwood’s passion for art began from the age of 17 when she studied fashion and silversmithing at the Harrow School of Art. She left after one term and began her career by opening her first boutique.

Recognised for her activism and stance on human rights, Dame Vivienne Westwood had several achievements that made her one of the most legendary designers in the industry, such as her 1992 OBE award for her services to British fashion and her 2007 Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design award from the British Fashion Awards.

She also cared about the environment, partnering with Ethical Fashion Africa in 2011, where she hired women locally to produce shopping bags from recycled materials and paid them a fair wage for their efforts. Along with her activism, she was keen on bringing attention to climate change and politics, which led to her writing blogs on

In 2007, after King’s was granted degree-awarding powers (no longer under the University of London), the university approached Vivienne to design our new academic dress – the gowns worn by students at their graduation ceremony.

The new academic gowns were unveiled during a catwalk show at the Great Hall on the Strand in 2008, ahead of the July graduations, where Dame Vivienne Westwood also received an Honorary Fellowship of King’s College London. Her gown designs stand out due to the gold button on each shoulder to represent Reggie, the King’s College London lion mascot, and their brightly coloured sleeves – each of which represents a different subject faculty. In her own words, she stated: ‘Through my reworking of the traditional robe, I tried to link the past, the present and the future. We are what we know.’

Dame Vivienne Westwood will not only be missed by the King’s community, but by her peers in the fashion industry, her friends and her family.